'Mutabilis'

(Pronounced: Moo-TAH-bil-is

ALSO KNOWN AS:

'Mutabilis' , R. chinensis mutabilis , R. turkistanica , 'The Butterfly Rose' , 'Tipo Ideale'

 

'Mutabilis'

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Mutabilis forms a large mounding shrub with unique silky-textured single flowers. Left to its own devices, 'Mutabilis' will be a shrub that is 5' - 6' tall and equally wide.

However one example in England has been trained against a wall and has reached a height in excess of 20'.

 

'Mutabilis'

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The blooms of 'Mutabilis', which are about 3" in diameter, have a distinctively delicate and silky appearance. The buds are flaming orange-yellow and the flowers open a pale yellow, but soon begin to change to shades of pink and finally crimson-pink.

The effect when in full bloom is that of a bush covered with multi-colored butterflies. Hence, the common name, 'The Butterfly Rose'.

 

'Mutabilis'

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The effect of the changing color of 'Mutabilis' blooms can be very dramatic.

 

'Mutabilis'

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Not a plant to be trifled with, 'Mutabilis' will cheerfully swallow a fence in a few months. So be careful where you park your Volkswagon, and avoid 'Mutabilis' is your garden is small.

 

'Mutabilis'

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In the late summer and fall, 'Mutabilis' sets 1/2" globular hips. The fruit is green when it forms but gradually turns 'pumpkin orange'

 
 

 
GENERAL
INFORMATION:

The origins of 'Mutabilis' are somewhat mysterious, but it clearly is a china rose. It is distinguished by large, silky, single flowers that cover the bush like butterflies.

The blooms are large and single (5 petals) and they change from creamy yellow to coppe-orange, and finally to crimson-pink.

 
BOTANICAL
GROUP:

Chinensis

 
GROUP:

OGR

 
CLASS:

Ch

 
SEED
PARENT:

Unknown  

POLLEN
PARENT:

Unknown  

BREEDER:

Unknown  

INTRODUCED:

Before 1896. 'Mutabilis' first came to the attention of botanists when it was given to Henri Correvon of Geneva by Prince Ghilberto Borromeo. It is not known whether 'Mutabilis' originated in China or in the prince's gardens at Isola Bella.  

DATE:

Before 1894  

PLANT SIZE
AND FORM:

Height:    6 '     to    10 '           Width:    5 '     to    8 '



The long slender canes and dense foliage of 'Mutabilis' result in a large dense shrub 4' to 6' high. In sheltered locations, specimens have grown up to 10' tall. Some specimens have been noted in excess of 20' tall.  

FOLIAGE
DESCRIPTION:

The foliage is dark green, finely cut, and plum colored when immature.

 
FOLIAGE
FRAGRANCE:

None.  

BLOOM
FREQUENCY:

C - Continuous. Mutabilis blooms repeatedly through out the growing season.

 
BLOOM
DESCRIPTION:
Flower Size:    2.00"      to      2.00"           Cluster Size:    3      to      5           Petal Count:    5 to 5          

The buds are slender and pointed. The blooms are single, silky in appearance, and approximately 4" in diameter. Due to the progressive change in color of the blooms, the blooming plant appears to be covered with varicolored butterflies.

 
BLOOM
COLOR:

The buds are vivid flame-red. The blooms open "tea rose yellow", but then change to pink, carmine, and crimson as the blooms age. Thus, the blooming plant appears to be covered with varicolored butterflies.

 
COLOR VARIATION:

The flowers darken through several colors as they age in response to the ultraviolet in the sunlight.  

FRAGRANCE:

sf - Slightly fragrant. 'Mutabilis' is slightly fragrant.

 
HIPS:

Globose, Orange, 1/2". 'Mutabilis' hips are large and initially green, but they quickly change to "pumpkin orange".

 
CLIMATE:

Zones 6 - 9  

CULTURE:

'Mutabilis' is an extremely healthy and versatile rose. It seems to have no disease problems, and tolerates partial shade and poor soils. It is an ideal hedging plant.

In alkaline soils, the foliage may take on a yellowish tint, but it does not affect the blooms. In very hot summers, 'Mutabilis' may shed some of its leaves.

 
PROPAGATION:

'Mutabilis' roots readily from cuttings.

 
OTHER
CHARACTERISTICS:


    ** Tolerant of shade
    ** Tolerant of poorer soils
    ** Suitable for hedging and fence rows
    ** Suitable for growing in pots
    ** Suitable for use as a climbing or pillar rose
    ** Commercial Availability is limited

'Mutabilis' is often incorrectly known as "Rosa Turkestanica". It is a beautiful, and care free plant, that I am convinced has a well developed sense of humor.

 
ANECDOTAL
INFORMATION:

Under normal circumstances, 'Mutabilis' is pruned annually by the frost. This is not altogether a bad thing because it keeps the size of the specimen to manageable proportions.

However, in mild climates and in a well sheltered location, such as against a south-facing wall, 'Mutabilis' will grow, and grow, and grow. One specimen in such a location was reported to be looking in a second story window.

About two acres devoted to over 300 'Mutabilis' plants can be seen in the gardens at La Landriana. These gardens were created by the Marchesa Lavinia Taverna during the last part of the 20th century.

This wonderful display of 'Mutabilis' is close to the site of the WW-II battle of Anzio near Rome.

 
REFERENCES:

American Rose Society. Modern Roses 10. Shreveport, Louisiana: American Rose Society. 1993, p. 403.

American Rose Society. Modern Roses XI. Shreveport, Louisiana: American Rose Society. 2000, p. 415.

Antique Rose Emporium. The Antique Rose Emporium 1998 Catalog. Independence, Texas: Antique Rose Emporium. 1998, p. 19.

Antique Rose Emporium. The Antique Rose Emporium 1988 Reference Guide. Independence, Texas: Antique Rose Emporium. 1988, p. 13.

Beales, Peter. Classic Roses. New York: Henry Holt & Company. 1997, pp. 359-369.

Druitt, Liz. The Organic Rose Garden. Dallas, TX: Taylor Publishing Company. 1996, pp. 86, 101, 158.

Scanniello, Stephen and Bayard, Tania. Roses Of America. New York: Henry Holt & Co.. 1990, p. 68.

Thomas, Graham Stuart. A Garden of Roses. Topsfield, MA: Salem House Publishers. 1987, p. 62.

Welch, William C.. Antique Roses for the South. Dallas: Taylor Publishing. 1990, pp. 71, 121, 137-138.

Welch, William C.. Perennial Garden Color. Dallas: Taylor Publishing. 1989, pp. 208-209, 238.

Last updated 12/28/03 4:30:14 PM